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Selectboard Meeting October 3, 2023


Page 1, Draft


Selectboard: Sheila Duranleau (Chair), AJ Galfetti, Fred Blanchard

Town employees: Peter Carbee (Planning), Lois Deberville (Town clerk), Ben Tiefenthaler (FEMA Admin)

Visitors: Angelita Galarza, Vicki Shena, Spencer Braman, Gayle Callahan, Joe Callahan, Billy Donovan, Maxine Durbrow, Jennifer Lambert, Andrea Poulin, Regina Mannings, Diane Chaffee

Via Zoom: Robbie Perdue, Josh Bell (Tree warden), Sarah Teel, Anna, Rachel Onuf, Ryan Bresette, Cheri Galfetti

  1. Meeting called to order by Chair at 6:30 p.m.
  2. Amended minutes of September 12, 2023, meeting was requested by Sarah Teel. “…this is in the draft under Section 7 about the timeline ATV revision timeline in that first 7.1 section. I had made a comment offering a clarification about our expression of public sentiment letter. So my comment wasn’t noted in the minutes. I wanted to clarify that we weren’t requesting that anyone wait until the town plan be completed, but only that it’d be used as a forum for further research and consideration of a complex issue.” So amended with motion to accept by AJ, 2nd by Fred, ayes carried.
  3. Adjustments to agenda: Discussion of Pacif Insurance added as 7.10, grant opportunities as 7.11. Diane asked about letter delivered to Emily Hutchinson, added to 6.6.
  4. Public comment on items not on agenda: Billy asked about town policy for contractors working in context of the (July) flood. He stated they were blocked in on Notch Road, and it was unclear who was going to pay for roadwork (done by himself). He contacted Ben who said that if no one had asked AJ prior to doing work, then neither town nor FEMA would pay for it. Chair said there’s no policy. AJ said first step should’ve been call town, town has own equipment and crew. Discussion ensued between AJ and Billy on how this should’ve been addressed, and between Chair and Billy on how there’s no town policy. Billy said he’d have to bill the residents. Chair said that’s between him and the residents, town has no authority to make residents pay.
  5. Visitors

5.1         Karen Kotecki -CVFiber OLT site-unable to attend, will attend next meeting at least by Zoom

5.2         Angelita Galarza discussed issues regarding posts put on her property, she removed them as she hadn’t been notified why they would be placed there. She doesn’t want her property used as a turn-around, and wants the landmark to be left alone. AJ explained the posts were grade sticks to measure to see if potentially it could be a T intersection, but determined town isn’t going to do anything at this time. Said grade sticks were in the town right of way (ROW). Communication will occur next time the town has to do that kind of work. Diane said the town has been trying for years to take this property, Sheila said if in ROW, then the town has the right to do that, but communication and discussion should happen, board concurred.

Page 2, Draft

5.2 continued…Angelita asked what ROW means, AJ will set up site visit with her to explain how it relates to her property. Sarah explained that the potentially historic fireplace in question is important to the neighborhood, and would like all facts considered and thought out.

5.3         Jennifer Lambert asked if the main street could be closed off for Halloween night or at least have some safety vehicles at either end. Maxine will discuss options with the fire department.    

5.4                 Spencer Braman requested permission to set poles across Stellar RD for sugaring, at Arnie Braman’s driveway. He would anchor them, to run (2) one inch lines across the road. AJ said make sure poles are out of ROW of the road. Spencer expressed possible issues with the reach of the boom and the placement of the river. He realizes at least 16’ high, issue will be the pole by low point of the river. He will try to reach out further back than the existing telephone poles. AJ will do site visit prior.

5.5          John O’Connor sent an email regarding flood debris that didn’t get picked up, Fred will do so. Fred will do a site visit to discuss fence by turn-around.

5.6          Diane asked about the letter delivered to Emily Hutchinson. This was delivered by Sheriff Contois to the house. Regarding hazardous material issues, Sheila called the Agency of Natural Resources to report the spills. She didn’t have the information asked, the agency suggested the person with the information contact them. Neighbors are frustrated with lack of response by the landowners and lack of action being able to be taken. This is a law enforcement issue. Our town’s contracted time with the sheriff’s department is being used to monitor Hutchinson property for other issues. Sheila suggested that whenever an issue comes up that makes a resident feel unsafe, call the police, and if resident lets her know that a report is made and what details are on it, then she will also call the same report in. Billy believes some of these issues are town issues. Sheila has reported these issues to the state.

  • Updates/Results

6.1/6.2 Delinquent tax collector and Treasurer (Scott Blanchard) left his report showing $2049.00 collected since last month. He gave a list of those owing over one year. Going forward, the first installment of 2023 will be assessed penalties from the 16th of each month. 6.5% of first installments have gone delinquent. He will be looking to start tax sales in early part of the winter. Tax sales will be made public.

6.3         Road Commissioner-no report. Billy asked about the tree that needs to be cut down, AJ will reach out to Jesse.

6.4         Town Clerk- Lois presented a 2020 Polling Place Accessibility Survey Report that identified issues inside and outside of the town hall. The inside issue has been resolved.  Harry and she checked the outer issues and found that they have not been addressed. AJ suggested reaching out to the community for someone(s) who would be willing to fix the problems. Lois will post on social media. Resident of Stellar RD requests a Road Closed sign, Fred said the one placed there was stolen. He will get another one there. The basement of the town hall is very mildewy, smell emanating around the door. Lois was given some suggestions of who to call for assessment.

6.5         FEMA administrator Ben spoke on some road work done since the last meeting. Two disaster areas are above the half-million dollar amount, one being Notch Road. Work was then done on roads that were at 80% done, including Williamstown RD by Wishing Well bridge, Plumb RD, Doyle RD, Sky Acres at junction with White Hill RD, Pray RD, guardrail at South Poor Farm bridge. All the roads are getting to winter weather condition, then time permitting to Stellar RD. Ben and FEMA workers visited all the roads that were at 80%, looking out ahead. He hasn’t seen the FEMA reports yet, they will be uploaded onto the FEMA site.

Page 3, Draft

6.5 continued…Ben will have a conference call with FEMA tomorrow (10/4/23), he will start giving them the invoices, photos, load slips, will be on track to start getting reimbursement, start mitigation process. Waiting on the last hydraulic study, work on a plan to address upgrades next year.

                Billy asked percentage of done on Notch Road, AJ said it’s 100% done. On Woodchuck Hollow Class 3, AJ will have road crew look at the ditches.

                Peter spoke with Bob Farnham, liason between governor’s office and emergency management, who is 99% sure the town will hit the 10% radiance which will drop our cost share to 5% from 12.5%. Sheila stated that from hearing from other towns, we are in a great position (for reimbursement) because we started on July 11 with our spreadsheets, pictures and tours.

                Billy asked Ben for definition of mitigation, Ben said it’s not used as making something better, but specifically targeted to improvements, ex: upsizing a culvert, changing the course of something.

                Andrea expressed concern over water pooling by the library, this will be looked into by the road crew and/or FEMA to determine how to alleviate this happening.

  • Business

        7.1         Board discussed revisions to the Rules of Procedure policy for selectboard meetings.
Sheila has received feedback from residents stating that the allowance for visitors to make comments is too long. After discussion, AJ made a motion to accept the amendments she proposed, 2nd by Fred, ayes carried.

(note: this will be available for public viewing upon the completion of the amendments)

        The board was asked about meeting twice a month, none of the members are open to that for various reasons, including time spent on grant writing, FEMA work/meetings often on Sundays.

        7.2          The Records Retention Policy was discussed. Lois revised the first draft and submitted for approval. This policy will allow for disposal of town records/paperwork according to the Vermont state statutes regarding oversight of such actions. Motion by Fred to accept, 2nd by AJ, ayes carried.

        7.3         MERP (Municipal Energy Resilience Program) grant was approved for the town hall and the library. Sheila has started uploading the documents needed-power and heat bills.

        7.4         Municipal Planning Grant and Municipal Resolution for FY24 explained by Peter. He met with the new community planner and they discussed the odds of getting a grant to help with our town plan. These grants are available to us because we are the only town in Central Vermont region without an accepted town plan, needs to be done by the end of next year in order to continue receiving grants. Our current plan is a state of the state (how many houses, how many farms, etc), he hopes for a more visionary plan, need to incorporate our emergency plan, some real plans as to what town wants to do over the next 6-8 years. The grants are up to $30,000 with a 10% match. Applications are due November 1, 2023, it will be filled out for us and Peter will review. He was given a list of 40 people who write town plans for a living, he’ll contact the more local ones to get some quotes. This resolution states we want to apply for a grant. Motion made by AJ to approve, 2nd by Fred, ayes carried.

        Peter has scheduled a planning commission meeting for later in October. Billy asked Peter about outline of how he’ll be proceeding. Peter will be working with the regional planning commission on that. He hopes to have the 2022 plan approved, then work on amendments. Billy would like to be included in meetings.

7.5         Sheila is starting the town report planning. Town report should be done and published so residents have ample time to look through before town meeting. She would like to have them mailed out. Maxine suggested backtracking from date of town meeting, see how long they would take to be published. Sheila wants all reports and service agencies inquiries sent to us by end of November.

Page 4, Draft

7.5 continued…Diane asked if delinquent tax payers’ names would be listed in the town report. Sheila needs to research the legalities. Peter says towns are going away from that due to tax rebate/privacy issues. Sheila has reached out to the school to coordinate the town meeting and school meeting.

7.6         Sheila and Bill Dubrow met with a website planner on revamping what we already have. Peter asked the community planner from the RPC if there’s funds for a start-up grant.

Sheila will continue looking into it. Regina asked about paying taxes online, this is a hope that all fees will be able to be paid online.

7.7   A resident has asked about the town’s hiring practices. If an elected official resigns, the statute gives the selectboard authority to appoint someone to fill that position. If there’s a petition submitted for a vote, then the town has to vote. If no petition is submitted, then appointment stands until the next annual meeting. The selectboard has to post the vacancy within ten days. This was done when Carol resigned, then when Anna resigned. As far as road crew, we currently don’t have a hiring policy. Typically the notice is put in the newspaper or we reach out to someone we know who may want to apply.

7.8         AJ said he would like to name Elwin Chambers as road foreman, solidify the fact that
Elwin is doing a good job in an already leadership position. AJ made motion to make Elwin the road foreman, 2nd by Fred. Ayes carried.

Regina asked about cleaning a culvert by her road. AJ said the town has rented a backhoe for that purpose, and they will be doing the culverts before winter. They also will check the culvert by Angelita’s proposed pole barn.

7.9         Rachel had sent an email to Sheila and Maxine about a grant from the Vermont Humanities Council for flood recovery, Maxine has started the paperwork. The library has sent paid invoices to the insurance company, and they have started the inventory paperwork of all items destroyed.  Rachel said if the application is in by tomorrow, it’d be considered in the first round. Andrea said contractors are hard to find, and the ones they have are not returning calls. Rachel will check in with her contacts.

7.10       Pacif Insurance has sent the renewal policy questionnaire. Lois and Peter will review and complete it.

7.11       Grant opportunities discussed. The one we may be interested is municipal highway and stormwater mitigation ie: salt and sand shed/storage. AJ has one completed and he’ll resubmit it. Peter will get a letter of support from the regional planning commission. There is a technical workshop on October 19 from 10-11 a.m., Peter will do his best to attend it. This is a 90/10 match.

8.            The next meeting is a budget meeting on October 17th, this will be warned as a public meeting. The next regularly scheduled selectboard meeting is November 1, 2023. 6:30 p.m. at the town hall.

Andrea asked about having a tickler file to put a timeline in of, for instance, the town plan. Peter explained that the last town plan was bound up around Covid between the town and the regional commission.

AJ made motion to adjourn at 8:30 pm. Carried by ayes.

This is a draft, subject to amending/accepting at the next selectboard meeting.

Respectfully submitted,

Lois Deberville


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